Djokovic Withdraws From Madrid Open

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during his ATP 250 Serbia Open semi-final singles tennis match against Russia’s Aslan Karatsev at The Novak Tennis Centre in Belgrade on April 24, 2021.
PEDJA MILOSAVLJEVIC / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic has pulled out of the Madrid Open, the tournament announced on Wednesday.

A message from the tournament’s official Twitter account read: “Novak Djokovic will not be playing in the Mutua Madrid Open. ‘Sorry that I won’t be able to travel to Madrid this year and meet all my fans”, said Djokovic. ‘It’s been two years already, quite a long time. Hope to see you all next year!'”.

Djokovic has only played four tournaments this year, having decided to take a break following his 18th grand slam success at the Australian Open in February.

The world number one suffered a surprise defeat to world number 28 Aslan Karatsev in the semi-finals of the Serbia Open on Saturday, after also losing to Dan Evans, ranked 33rd, earlier this month in Monte Carlo.

Djokovic is expected to play in Rome and Belgrade as he prepares for next month’s French Open, where he will be hoping to deny Rafael Nadal a 13th title while looking to add to his own single success in Paris in 2016.

The Madrid Open starts this week, with the women’s main draw beginning on Thursday and the men’s tournament on Sunday.

Djokovic is the reigning men’s champion after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final in 2019. Last year’s event was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

-AFP

Top Seeds Medvedev, Osaka Crash Out Of Miami Open

A photo combination of top seeds Daniil Medvedev and Naomi Osaka. Photo: AFP
A photo combination of top seeds Daniil Medvedev and Naomi Osaka. Photo: AFP

 

Top-seeded Daniil Medvedev crashed out of the Miami Open Wednesday on a day of upsets that also saw Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka ousted from the quarter-finals.

Seventh-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut beat Medvedev 6-4, 6-2, for his third win in as many meetings with the Russian who was runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open and ascended to No. 2 in the world with his victory at Marseille in March.

Women’s world No. 2 Osaka — seeded second behind top-ranked Ashleigh Barty in the prestigious ATP Masters and WTA hardcourt tournament — had bowed out hours earlier, the Japanese star’s 23-match winning streak coming to a crashing halt with a 6-0, 6-4 loss to Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

Bautista booked a semi-final showdown with 19-year-old Italian Jannick Sinner, the world No. 31 who beat Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.

Sakkari will face eighth-seeded Canadian Bianca Andreescu for a place in the women’s final.

Andreescu, ranked ninth in the world, clawed out a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over tenacious 58th-ranked Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Osaka, playing her first tournament since lifting her fourth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, won just eight points in the first set as she failed to muster a single winner.

Osaka broke in the second game of the second set and seized a 3-0 lead before Sakkari roared back for a victory that ended Osaka’s chance of overtaking Australia’s Barty — who had already booked her semi-final spot — atop the world rankings this week.

Osaka acknowledged that the rankings race may have affected her against Greece’s 25th-ranked Sakkari.

“The last time I was in this (press conference) seat, I wasn’t really thinking at all about rankings, but someone asked me that question, so then I did start to ponder about it a lot.

“So maybe unwillingly that put pressure on myself. But I feel like even if it did, I should be able to rise above that,” Osaka said.

Osaka hadn’t dropped a set at love since her last defeat, which came in February 2020 in a Fed Cup match.

“She has the most wins so far this year so she’s in great form — it meant a lot to me,” said Sakkari, who let loose a scream of delight after the final point.

“To be deadly honest, I got a little tight in the first two games of the second set,” said Sakkari, who had saved six match points in her fourth-round win over American Jessica Pegula.

“I stayed within myself and started fighting back, hitting a few more balls and winning a few points against her.”

Andreescu outlasts Sorribes

Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion trying to work her way back this year after a 15-month injury absence, broke Sorribes in the final game of the opening set, launching a run of eight straight service breaks.

Andreescu was irked by a time violation early in the second set, in which Sorribes held serve for the only time in the set for a 5-3 lead — enough of an edge to level the match.

Up a break at 3-2 in the third, Andreescu saved three break points to hold, broke Sorribes again only to drop her own serve but finally sealed it with a stinging backhand down the line on her second match point.

“She’s an incredible fighter,” Andreescu said. “I have no idea how I pushed through, but I fought as hard as I could and I’m super happy.”

Bautista went into his clash with Medvedev with the confidence of two prior victories over the Russian, and once again he had the winning formula.

“I want to give Daniil all the credit, I know he is one of the best players in the world,” Bautista said. “He’s been winning a lot of matches, he’s No. 2 in the world, so I’m very happy and proud about how I played today. I think I showed a great level on the court.”

The Spaniard gained the first break of a tense opening set for a 5-4 lead, then saved a break point to pocket the set on his second opportunity.

He broke Medvedev to open the second set, and the Russian never found a way back in, unable to convert two break points before dropping his serve again to trail 4-1.

Bautista served out the match in no-nonsense style, with a love game after one hour and 32 minutes.

Against Sinner, he’ll be looking to avenge a three-set defeat in the third round at Dubai.

Sinner handled everything Bublik could throw at him on Wednesday — from a 105mph forehand return to an underhand serve.

In the end the Italian’s 28 forehand winners were plenty to book a semi-final berth in just his third Masters 1000 appearance.

 

AFP

Miami Open: Medvedev, Osaka Advance As Zverev Tumbles Out

Daniil Medvedev of Russia returns a shot during his men’s singles second round match against Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan on Day 5 of the 2021 Miami Open presented by Itaú at Hard Rock Stadium on March 26, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Mark Brown/Getty Images/AFP

 

Daniil Medvedev celebrated his rise to second in the world with a seamless entry into the Miami Open on Friday, trouncing Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun in less than an hour.

Russia’s Medvedev needed just 56 minutes to subdue Lu 6-2, 6-2, firing nine aces with just one double fault as he advanced to a third-round meeting with Australian Alexei Popyrin, a 6-4, 6-2, winner over 30th-seeded American Reilly Opelka.

Women’s world number two Naomi Osaka, seeded second behind top-ranked Australian Ashleigh Barty, had a tougher time, but conquered her nerves in her first match since winning the Australian Open to beat Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.

Men’s third seed Alexander Zverev, ranked seventh in the world, became the biggest upset victim so far in the prestigious ATP Masters and WTA hardcourt tournament, falling 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 to 83rd-ranked Finn Emil Ruusuvuori.

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Medvedev, the top seed in an ATP Masters event for the first time, was all over Lu from the opening game.

He belted 24 winners to become the second player — along with compatriot Andrey Rublev — to reach 15 match wins this year.

Runner-up to top-ranked Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, Medvedev ascended to No. 2 in the world when he lifted the ATP trophy in Marseille.

Medvedev became the first player outside the “Big Four” of Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to rank second in the world since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.

But he’s already looking for more.

“The only thing I feel like when you reach something you haven’t done then straight away it doesn’t matter and you want to go further and further,” he said. “I think it’s the same for everybody.

“I’m happy about my achievement but only trying to improve every day and want to go further.”

Zverev also arrived in Miami riding a wave of success, having captured the ATP title in Acapulco last week.

But Ruusuvuori, 21, rallied to claim one of the biggest wins of his career, turning the tables on Zverev with more aggressive tactics in the second set and posting the second win of his career over a top-10 player.

“I don’t even know myself,” he said of how he managed the reversal. “I wasn’t feeling very comfortable in the first set and I was making a lot of unforced errors. But slowly in the second I was starting to feel a bit better.”

Naomi Osaka of Japan returns a shot during her singles second round match against Ajla Tomljanović of Australia on Day 5 of the 2021 Miami Open presented by Itaú at Hard Rock Stadium on March 26, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Florida. Mark Brown/Getty Images/AFP

 

– Osaka fights through –

Osaka acknowledged she was feeling some nerves in her first match since she lifted her fourth Grand Slam title in Melbourne.

“I would say what I’m most proud of today, just being able to handle my nerves,” she said.

That was a bigger problem than the gusty wind on Grandstand Court at Hard Rock Stadium, where 77th-ranked Tomljanovic twice went up a break in the opening set but despite an impressive display of power was eventually undone by 24 unforced errors.

Thirteen aces among her 36 winners helped Osaka overcome a slew of unforced errors of her own and set up a third-round meeting with Serbian qualifier Nina Stojanovic, who surprised Yulia Putintseva, the 26th seed from Kazakhstan, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.

“I served really well when I needed to,” Osaka said. “Unfortunately I got broken a couple of times, but I think when it really, really mattered, I was able to serve well, so I’m happy with that.

Fourth-seeded American Sofia Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion, rallied for a 6-7 (6/8), 6-1, 6-3 victory over German Andrea Petkovic.

Sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova, eighth-seeded Bianca Andreescu and No. 12 Garbine Muguruza also advanced.

Pliskova beat China’s Zheng Saisai 6-2, 6-1, Andreescu defeated Czech Tereza Martincova 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 and Spain’s Muguruza, coming off a title in Dubai two weeks ago, beat wild card Wang Xinyu of China 6-4, 6-1.

In other men’s action, Australian James Duckworth surprised eighth-seeded Belgian David Goffin 6-3, 6-1 and Britain’s Cameron Norrie beat ninth-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-5.

AFP

Federer Pulls Out Of Miami Open

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 10, 2019, Roger Federer of Switzerland gestures at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament in Shanghai. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP)

 

Defending champion Roger Federer has withdrawn from this month’s Miami Open as he works his way back to full fitness following surgeries to repair his right knee, US media reported on Monday.

The 39-year-old Swiss star, who has not played since losing in the semi-finals of last year’s Australian Open, is due to make his return from a year-long layoff at the Qatar Open in Doha next week.

However, the Miami Herald cited Federer’s agent Tony Godsick as saying on Monday that the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion had opted to skip the Miami tournament for scheduling reasons.

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The Herald said Federer could play in Dubai after Doha but would then take a training break.

Federer’s withdrawal is a blow to organizers of the Miami tournament, who were forced to cancel last year’s event as Covid-19 chaos left sport in North America at a standstill.

The pandemic has already impacted the 2021 calendar, delaying the Australian Open and forcing the Indian Wells tournament in California — the traditional lead-in to the Miami Open — out of its usual slot in March.

Miami is still expected to feature a strong field despite Federer’s withdrawal, with world number one Novak Djokovic and 20-time Grand Slam-winner Rafael Nadal confirmed for the men’s draw.

Serena Williams and newly minted Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka are also slated to appear in the women’s draw.

AFP

Barty Beats Pliskova To Win WTA Miami Open Title

Ashleigh Barty of Australia celebrates with the trophy after her win against Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic in the final during day thirteen of the Miami Open tennis on March 30, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Julian Finney/Getty Images/AFP

 

Ashleigh Barty’s transformation is complete after the Australian defeated Czech seventh seed Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (7/1) 6-3 Saturday to win the biggest singles title of her career at the WTA Miami Open.

The 22-year-old Aussie quit tennis five years ago after finding the mental grind of the tour too much to bear, turning to professional cricket in a bid to find sporting happiness.

Barty, however, knew she had the tennis skills to compete at the very top and after returning in February 2016, has taken her career to an elite level, culminating in her first-ever WTA Premier Mandatory title to follow on from the US Open doubles crown she won last September.

Barty, a junior Wimbledon winner at age 15, will rise from 11th to number nine in the world rankings and become the first Australian woman since Sam Stosur in June 2013 to crack the top 10.

“It has been a phenomenal two weeks both in singles and doubles,” said Barty, who lost a women’s doubles semi-final alongside Victoria Azarenka.

Barty hit 15 aces and 41 winners compared to 22 from an out-of-sorts Pliskova.

“I had to keep it physical, make as many balls as possible and keep my running shoes on,” Barty said.

Barty’s victory means that for the first time ever there have been 14 different winners in 14 WTA events so far this season.

Pliskova, who will rise to fourth in the rankings despite a disappointing final, badly struggled with her serve and movement, off the pace mentally and physically after reaching the quarter-finals or better in her five prior tournaments this year.

“I am very tired but Ashleigh came up with the goods today,” Pliskova said.

The 27-year-old Czech came into the final with 31 aces, most in the women’s draw, but she won only 65% of points on her first serve compared to 86% from Barty.

When the Australian double-faulted at 1-1 to hand Pliskova an early break, it wasn’t the start Barty sought and more errors in the following game allowed Pliskova to extend her lead.

Barty then began to settle down and crisply struck a forehand winner to breal Pliskova for the first time.

The Aussie started superbly in the tie-breaker, moving 5-1 ahead before Pliskova hit long to seal the set for Barty, who broke early in the second set to signal it would be her day.

AFP

Federer Downs Anderson To Reach Miami Semi-Final

Roger Federer of Switzerland in action against Kevin Anderson of South Africa during day eleven of the Miami Open tennis on March 28, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Julian Finney/Getty Images/AFP

 

Roger Federer superbly cut Kevin Anderson down to size with a magical ATP and WTA Miami Open display to seal his spot in the semi-finals with a 6-0, 6-4 victory.

The Swiss came into the match with Anderson knowing the world number seven’s huge serve could be the difference at Hard Rock Stadium, just as it was in a dramatic five set, last eight encounter at Wimbledon won by the South African last summer.

Yet after a whirlwind first set, Federer had broken the Anderson serve three times and “bageled” his opponent, much to the delight of a packed house on center court who came to show their appreciation for the evergreen 37 year-old as he chases a fourth Miami title which would take his career tally to 101.

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It was the first time Anderson, 32, has ever lost a first set at ATP level to love.

There were only 27 minutes on the clock when Federer, whose backhand slice in particular was causing Anderson all manner of problems, broke in the first game of the second.

After that, despite some resistance from Anderson, there really only ever looked like being one outcome.

“I played a really solid first set and got a good read on his serve,” said the current world number five who has improved with every match on this run to the last four.

“It was tough because I know he keeps going and if you get passive you need to come up with a good passing shot.

“Maybe I got a bit lucky at the end, but I am just pleased to get through.”

The Swiss plays Canadian starlet Denis Shapovalov, 19, in what will be a first meeting between the pair on Friday for a place in Sunday’s final.

“The young guys are going to carry the game forward after we have stopped playing,” Federer said. “I am looking forward to watching them slug it out in the future while I am sat on the couch.”

On this evidence, though, the 20 time Slam-winning star remains incredibly hard to beat.

Anderson refused to buckle and when he finally managed to get on the board by breaking the former world number one’s serve, he was sarcastically applauded by some sections of what was a predictably pro-Federer crowd.

The remainder of the second set remained incredibly tight as Anderson relied on a serve that wasn’t firing consistently — a recent elbow problem which forced him out of Indian Wells this month appearing to hamper him at times.

But he remained dangerous enough to save five break points in an epic ninth game.

Federer, however, finally moved to within one service game of victory when Anderson hit long and was broken. The Swiss then served out to love as the clock showed one hour and 25 minutes.

AFP

Miami Open: Djokovic Beats Delbonis, Halep Battles Into Fourth Round

Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts after defeating Federico Delbonis of Argentina on Day 7 of the Miami Open Presented by Itau at Hard Rock Stadium on March 24, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

 

Novak Djokovic remains on course for a record seventh Miami Open title, but the world number one admitted to a loss of focus in a 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 victory over spirited Federico Delbonis which booked his place in the last 16.

Djokovic is hoping to eclipse Andre Agassi’s six ATP crowns in South Florida over the next week and although the 31-year-old endured some shaky moments at Hard Rock Stadium, he still possessed enough quality during the key moments to see off the battling Delbonis.

The Serbian, though, wasn’t happy with letting a 5-2 advantage slip in the first set and became furious with himself as the second squirmed from his grasp.

READ ALSO: Djokovic, Osaka Win Miami Openers As Thiem Tumbles

He will need to tighten up his game if he is to reach next Sunday’s final with Roberto Bautista Agut waiting in the fourth round after the Spaniard defeated Italian Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-4.

“To be honest, I lost my focus,” said Djokovic who smashed 36 winners compared to 24 from Delbonis. “I should have done better I think mentally than I have done at the end of the first two sets.

“I managed to really play well last couple games of the first set, go up a break, put myself in front, then I played a couple of really bad service games. Credit to Federico, he stepped in.”

Djokovic had looked impressive in the second round win over Bernard Tomic and the Serbian continued his decent form by immediately imposing himself onto the Argentine.

Djokovic moved 5-2 ahead but after he missed a set point opportunity on the Delbonis serve, his game deserted him and suddenly, the South American had a spring in his step.

Delbonis had opportunities to steal ahead, yet calling on all his experience and mental resolve, the Serbian was able to hold firm and take the opener.

The world number one was getting incredibly frustrated, he received a warning for racquet abuse and was furious for allowing a 3-1 lead to slip in the second, yet credit to Delbonis who stayed calm and served out confidently to force a decider, something which looked beyond him midway through the opening set.

He couldn’t keep the pressure on, however, and when Djokovic managed to get 3-1 ahead, this time there was no way back for the 28-year-old from Azul who rightly received an ovation from the center court crowd for his monumental efforts.

“I think last four games were terrific, so I ended up in a positive way,” Djokovic added.

Defending champion John Isner blew Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas off the court with serves touching 139 mph as the American sealed an ultimately comprehensive 7-5, 7-6 (8-6) win to set up an intriguing match with Kyle Edmund in the last 16 after the British number one impressively saw off Canadian Milos Raonic 6-4 6-4.

In the women’s draw, Simona Halep kept alive hopes of regaining the world number one ranking Sunday, beating Polona Hercog 5-7, 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 to reach the last 16 where she will play Venus Williams.

Halep, 27, lost her place at the top of the rankings following Naomi Osaka’s triumph at the Australian Open earlier this year.

But with the Japanese faltering here on Saturday, Halep can return to the position she last held at the end of 2018 if she lands the Miami Open for the first time.

“It’s always tough against Venus,” said the current world number three, who has beaten the American in their previous three encounters.

“I’m not going to say that it’s going to be easier because I won the last matches against her. It’s a big challenge for me.”

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams, meanwhile, swept past Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-1.

“Simona always plays flawless tennis against me, so I have to be ready for that,” Williams said.

Elsewhere in women’s action, American Sloane Stephens’s title defense ended in a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Germany’s Tatjana Maria.

It was another disappointing ending for Stephens, who fell in the third round at Indian Wells.

AFP

 

World Number One Osaka Suffers Shock Defeat In Miami

World Number One Osaka Suffers Shock Defeat In Miami
Naomi Osaka of Japan looks dejected in her match against Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei during the Miami Open Tennis on March 23, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Julian Finney/Getty Images/AFP

 

Naomi Osaka crashed out of the third round of the WTA and ATP Miami Open on Saturday as Hsieh Su-Wei exacted revenge for a painful Australian Open defeat with a 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 victory.

World number one Osaka had looked in little danger after winning the first set and moving a break ahead in the second.

But Taiwan’s Hsieh, who was a set and 4-1 up in Melbourne earlier this year before losing to the Japanese star in the third round, battled superbly to leave the Miami Open wide open following the withdrawal of Serena Williams on Saturday afternoon with a knee injury.

“This was a very emotional win for me,” said Hsieh who hit 39 winners, one less than her opponent, with both winning 69% of points on their first serves. “Any time you beat one of the top players it is amazing.”

Osaka’s second-round win over Belgian Yanina Wickmayer on Friday saw a second set wobble from the two time Grand Slam winning star and it was more of the same against Hsieh, who simply refused to give up the fight.

The 33-year-old will play either Caroline Wozniacki or Monica Niculescu in the fourth round.

Hsieh certainly made an impressive start on the main court of the new look Miami Open, breaking Osaka immediately and establishing an early 4-1 advantage.

But Osaka managed to compose herself and claw back to 4-4 and then broke once again to land the opening set.

And when the reigning US and Australian Open champion produced a brilliant crosscourt backhand to break her opponent’s serve at the start of the second set, Hsieh looked down and out.

Osaka, however, was broken when serving for the match as the 27th-ranked Hsieh regained some momentum and took full advantage of her opponent’s dip in form to take the match into a deciding set which was superbly won by the Taiwanese.

Osaka’s defeat follows her fourth-round exit last week at Indian Wells, where she was the defending champion.

In the men’s draw, there was a surprise in the opening match on Hard Rock Stadium’s centre court as world number 33 Stan Wawrinka was beaten 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5) by 103rd-ranked Serbian Filip Krajinovic.

AFP

Serena Survives Scare To Advance In Miami

Serena Williams of the United States serves to Rebecca Peterson of Sweden during Day 5 of the Miami Open Presented by Itau at Hard Rock Stadium on March 22, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

 

Serena Williams survived an “irresponsible” second set lapse on Friday to see off Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 in her second-round opener of the WTA and ATP Miami Open.

“I wasn’t really happy with my performance,” admitted the 23-time Grand Slam champion, who is playing in just her third tournament of 2019 having lost in the Australian Open quarter-finals before retiring in the second set of her third-round match against Garbine Muguruza with a viral illness at Indian Wells last week.

“Had to take a lot of time off the last week,” she said. “It’s definitely not easy at all. But I’m through it. That’s that. I’ve just got to get my game back to where I know it can be.

“I told myself at the end of the second set that I could not lose this match.

“I knew that I could play a lot, lot, lot better. I just had to be better. At this point, it was irresponsible to be playing the way I was playing in the second set.”

READ ALSO: Djokovic, Osaka Win Miami Openers As Thiem Tumbles

Williams, an eight-time winner in Miami, was just relieved to make it through to the third round where she will meet China’s Wang Qiang who thrashed Britain’s Jo Konta, the 2017 Miami Open champion, 6-4 6-0.

The former world number one was certainly rusty in her first ever match against the 63rd-ranked Swede, despite starting strongly and easing into a first set lead.

Peterson, however, who lost in the first round in Indian Wells, produced some excellent tennis in the second and managed to break down Williams’s serve to take the match into a deciding set.

As the South Florida sun began to lower, Williams appeared to struggle with her ball toss.

“It was interesting, because first of all it was dark out there, which was really odd,” Williams said. “I wasn’t sure if there should be lights. The shadow was so intense it was actually dark.

“Then there was light, but only on my side. That was weird because I literally couldn’t see.

“But I need to just move on and really focus on playing better or not being in the tournament much longer.”

Williams, 37, is still seeking a first title since the birth of daughter Alexis Olympia.

She admitted it was sometimes hard to stay patient, although she believes returning to the top 10 after her extended maternity leave qualifies as “extremely successful”.

“It’s just a step at a time,” she said. “Just because my level of success is so much higher than what’s natural, I have to take these moments and say, ‘You’re doing great,’ encourage myself in a positive way so I can get that success that I want to have since coming back from the baby.”

AFP

Djokovic, Osaka Win Miami Openers As Thiem Tumbles

Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns a shot to Bernard Tomic of Australia during the Miami Open Presented by Itau at Hard Rock Stadium March 22, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

 

Novak Djokovic put his Indian Wells disappointment behind him on Friday at the ATP and WTA Miami Open with a ruthless 7-6 (7/2) 6-2 destruction of Australian Bernard Tomic to move into the third round.

The Serbian world number one endured a meek exit at the hands of German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the California desert but arrived desperate to land what would be a record seventh title in South Florida.

Tomic, the current world No. 81, gave the 31-year-old a few problems yet the Australian struggles to consistently challenge the best players and this was evident once again as Djokovic eased through the gears at Hard Rock Stadium with just one hour and 13 minutes on the clock.

“In Indian Wells, I wasn’t feeling my best,” conceded Djokovic who won 81% of points on his first serve and hit 11 aces.

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“Everyone has nerves coming onto center court regardless of how much experience you have and what your ranking is. You care about it and if you are nervous that means you care.

“I commonly feel like that. This was my first time playing at this new stadium, it felt like being indoor a little bit. It’s unique.

“Now hopefully,” he added, “I can build some momentum.”

On a day that saw Djokovic, top-ranked woman Naomi Osaka and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams advance, the shock of the day was the departure of Indian Wells Masters winner Dominic Thiem, who was beaten 6-4, 6-4 by highly rated Polish 22-year-old Hubert Hurkacz.

Elsewhere, there was a disappointment for Kei Nishikori. The fifth seed lost to Serbian Dusan Lajovic 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 but reigning champion John Isner outlasted Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (7/2), 7-6, (9/7).

Japanese star Osaka had to keep her emotions in check as she opened her campaign by outlasting Yanina Wickmayer 6-0, 6-7 (3/7), 6-1.

Since winning her second consecutive Grand Slam title in January at the Australian Open, Osaka has failed to go deep in Dubai or Indian Wells.

But she appeared in solid form against 141st-ranked Wickmayer, despite losing her way in the middle of an entertaining match at Hard Rock Stadium.

The 21-year-old was forced to dig deep after the Belgian, who reached the Miami Open last eight in 2010, forced the third set as Osaka’s game badly dipped.

 ‘Just breathe’ 

“In the second set, I got really emotional, so in the third, I just tried to shut off my feelings,” Osaka said. “I started thinking about winning and not the things I could do in order to win. I had a dip and she started playing really well.

“I just had to breathe and regroup,” she said. “I find myself doing it often when I am in emotional situations, it’s like an energy saver.”

Next up in the third round is Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei, who defeated American Alison Riske 6-2, 7-5.

The pair had a rollercoaster clash in the Australian Open at the start of 2019 with Hsieh a set and 4-1 up in Melbourne only to lose a dramatic third-round encounter.

Serena Williams survived a second-set lull to beat Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson 6-3, 1-6, 6-1, and elder sister Venus also advanced with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 win over Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro.

There will be a repeat of last week’s WTA final in Indian Wells between Bianca Andreescu and Angelique Kerber.

Canadian 18-year-old Andreescu, who brilliantly won her maiden WTA title in California, beat American Sofia Kenin 6-3,6-3 to book a third-round meeting with three-time Grand Slam winner Kerber, who saw off Russia’s Karolina Muchova 3-6 6-3 6-3.

AFP

Isner Stuns Del Potro To Reach Miami Open Final

 

John Isner of the United States plays a forehand against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in their semifinal match during the Miami Open Presented by Itau at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 30, 2018, in Key Biscayne, Florida. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images/AFP

 

John Isner produced a blistering Miami Open semi-final display against crowd favourite Juan Martin Del Potro to win 6-1, 7-6 (7/2) and snap the former US Open champion’s 15-match winning streak.

It was a phenomenal effort from the American who blasted down 13 aces and took just one hour and 23 minutes to floor Argentina’s Del Potro and book his place in Sunday’s final.

Isner will meet world number five Alexander Zverev in the final after the German rolled over Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 in the other semi-final.

“I have played a lot of big matches and not been able to get such a good start but I am playing some of the best tennis I have played in such a long time,” Isner said.

“I started the tournament well and I have improved with every game. I am super fresh and ready to go for the final.”

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina runs to play a forehand against John Isner of the United States in their semifinal match during the Miami Open.  Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images/AFP

 

An exhausted Del Potro said he is looking forward to some much-needed time away from tennis before deciding on when to play next.

Winning the final would have seen him climb to world number three but simply staying fit for the French Open in May is the ultimate goal.

French Open target

“I don’t want to think about tennis right now,” said the Argentine.

“I just want to stay healthy and maybe I will miss a few tournaments to get ready for the French Open. We will come up with a schedule for the clay court season.

“I will go home now, eat some barbeque, spend time with friends and not talk about tennis for the next few weeks.”

Isner, who won an impressive 83 percent of points on his second serve, was aiming to reach his fifth ATP Masters final and, finally, emerge victorious from one after four defeats.

John Isner of the United States reacts after match point against Juan Martin del Potro. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

 

The American had never reached the showpiece here but knew that with the fit again Del Potro in such devastating form and unbeaten in his last 15 matches, it would take a monumental effort to upset the Argentine and his hordes of followers at Crandon Park.

The American wasted no time in breaking Del Potro and racing into a 3-0 lead while sending down five aces on his own serve to brilliantly wrap up the first set in just 27 minutes.

The second set was a tight affair, going into the ninth game with the match delicately poised at 4-4.

Isner suddenly had a chance to break which was saved by Del Potro after the world number 17 hit the net, a mistake which was punished by an ace and drop shot from the crowd favourite.

Deafening chants of ‘Delpo, Delpo’ rang around the main stadium here as the 29-year-old tried to force a deciding set yet Isner’s serve held firm to force a tie-break.

The momentum was with the American, his serve reaching 136 mph as he flew into a 3-0 lead.

Isner’s serve was relentless and on target every single time making it impossible for Del Potro to get a foothold in the game, and when an excellent passing shot gave Isner four match points, he took the first with a brilliant drop volley to complete one of the finest wins of his career.

“When he plays like that, he’s one of the toughest guys on tour to beat,” Del Potro said.

Fourth seeded Zverev needed 88 minutes to oust Carreno Busta and punch his ticket to the final.

The 20-year-old Zverev will be seeking his seventh career ATP title and first of the season when he faces Isner.

Zverev blasted 10 aces and won 88 percent of his first serve points in his first career meeting with the 26-year-old Carreno Busta.

“Every day I want to serve big,” said Zverev, who improved to 13-4 on the season. “I was very fortunate to win the first set and then I found my game in the second set.”

AFP

Venus Williams Rallies To Advance At Miami Open

Venus Williams Rallies To Advance At Miami Open
(Files) Venus Williams reacts against Sloane Stephens during the 2017 US Open on September 7, 2017. Abbie Parr/Getty Images for USTA/AFP

 

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams stormed back from deficits in both sets to defeat qualifier Natalia Vikhlyantseva 7-5, 6-4 in the second round of the WTA Miami Open on Friday.

The 37-year-old American improved to 7-3 on the season as she clinched the victory on the second match point when the 21-year-old Russian smacked a forehand wide.

Williams trailed 2-5 in the first set but won five straight games to take the opener. She also rallied in the second set, falling behind 0-3 before winning six of the next seven for the victory.

Williams advances to the third round where she will face 29th seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, who outlasted American Varvara Lepchenko 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1.

AFP